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Grad. School Supplies?


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Thanks for the thoughtful comments, avflinsch.

The backpack -- Of course, everybody's needs are going to be different, so from my POV it's pretty small, actually. True, it holds a lot, but I rarely pack it full. Nice to know I can if I need to, though. I have upper back and shoulder problems, so messenger bags, totes, briefcases, shoulder bags, anything that pulls me to one side, even if it's fairly light, seriously jacks up my upper back and shoulder blade. This backpack distributes weight so that I have zero pain, which is the main reason I carry it.

Fountain pens -- I have tried a few of these, most recently the Lamy Safari, which my husband swears by. I cannot get the ink to flow comfortably for me. It's ok if I write slowly, but I'm a fast writer and I take a lot of handwritten notes in class, and I can't really slow down. Maybe I haven't found the right fountain pen for me. Handwritten notes help me focus and aid recall, so I don't plan to stop taking them anytime soon.

Stabilo pens -- You may be right! I don't use them for note-taking, just for dating/heading notes and color-coding my planner, so I write with them fairly seldom.

The highlighters -- I still print most articles out. I do kindle books but for some reason I can't properly articulate I like to highlight journal articles by hand.

The Kindle -- I'm considering replacing mine. You're right, they save so much money and hassle. I also love that the books are searchable so easily. Asking the prof for TOC is a great idea!

Moleskine -- Hmm, I've never run into problems with the paper, maybe because I don't use fountain pens? I did try Black 'n Red as well as Rhodia but I just haven't found anything I like as much as Moleskine. Something about the paper feel, color, lines -- it just does it for me.

Planner -- I'm so old school about a paper planner. It's just the most satisfying process -- picking it out, setting it all up, choosing the colors, writing things down, crossing them off when they're done. I don't know if I'll ever be able to give it up.

External drive -- 1 TB is more than big enough for me right now! YMMV

Amazon -- I still watch a lot of their streaming content, and do a lot of shopping on their site. Like, maybe too much. It might be a problem, actually...

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After reading through all 23 pages, I think I've managed to compile the most salient (at least for me) and still relevant pieces of advice as far as grad school supplies  Laptop - While most peo

What was valuable to me: -1TB hard drive to back up to -Bookcase (you accrue a crap ton of books) -Scanner (why have a filing cabinet when you can have a digital one that takes up no space at all)

FWIW, I recommend: A set of blank correspondence cards from Crane and postage to send thank you notes. Purell and lots of it. Your sense of humor--most notably the ability to laugh at yourself. At

I've switched from Moleskin to Leichturm notebooks recently, and am glad I did. Much better quality paper and build, and cheaper as well. 

For me, I use messenger bags rather than a backpack- one waterproof Chrome bag, and one nicer looking shoulder bag. The waterproof has saved me so many times over the years, it's one of the top things I look for in a new bag. I can survive if I get soaked... My laptop and papers, not so much. 

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18 hours ago, spacecheetah said:

Fountain pens -- I have tried a few of these, most recently the Lamy Safari, which my husband swears by. I cannot get the ink to flow comfortably for me. It's ok if I write slowly, but I'm a fast writer and I take a lot of handwritten notes in class, and I can't really slow down. Maybe I haven't found the right fountain pen for me. Handwritten notes help me focus and aid recall, so I don't plan to stop taking them anytime soon.

 

There are two things likely to cause problems in the ink flow, either you are holding the pen at too high of an angle with respect to the paper, or have the nib rotated. The Lamy has a somewhat triangular grip, so you are more or less forced to hold the nib in the correct position, my suspicion is that you are holding the pen at too high of an angle.

see http://www.richardspens.com/?page=ref/ttp/sweetspot.htm for a better description

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I've never been a huge fan of Lamy pens, despite the fact that most people love them. The Pilot Metropolitan line is my go to, with various different Noodler inks. Very smooth, work on most papers. 

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Can anyone recommend some specs I should be looking for while laptop shopping? I'm pretty ignorant about technical aspects like RAM, processors, graphics, etc. 

I'm about to start a PhD in History and need a laptop that is lightweight, durable, and suitable for research, writing,  and casual web browsing. I know this describes literally all laptops, but there is a huge variety out there and I am lost sorting through the literally thousands of options. Would really appreciate any advice on the minimal / optimal technical requirements I should be looking for. 

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Others closer to the industry can weigh in, and should-- as I am quite the Luddite.  

However... I've come to rely on Lenovos.  Solidly built, good keyboards, etc.  My current one is the X260 from a year or two ago.  Many of its best features can probably be had elsewhere.

I've found that the prospect of an easily-replaceable battery is a good thing.  Before, I used one of the early X-1 Carbons.  While fantastic in many ways, it eventually started to lose its battery power.  Replacing that would probably have required a new mother board.  I might do that someday, but no hurry.  In the meantime, I have power cords to pack and have the option of getting an extra battery or two if I am going to be writing or analyzing stuff miles from proper electricity.

USB-3 ports are good.  Also whatever the input is called for ethernet-- that can be useful in hotels or places where wifi is erratic.  Some notebooks won't have that because it takes up too much space.

You're seeing more and more solid-state hard drives.  I like the idea, just because a multi-piece, hi-rpm hard drive gives me the willies if it is going to get thrown around the way I sometimes throw things around.

Make sure you are OK with the mouse arrangement.  Lenovo has the famous IBM pencil-eraser (clit mouse), which some like.  I actually prefer the flat panel near the thumbs.  There will be alternatives, so try them out if you're not sure.  They're like dinner forks in that respect.

Screen quality varies a lot.  Find out how much you care, and get at least your minimum.

Decide if you want or need DVD/CD inputs and recording.  Probably not, these days, but you can always get an external one if you change your mind.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Duchess of Wavertree said:

Can anyone recommend some specs I should be looking for while laptop shopping? I'm pretty ignorant about technical aspects like RAM, processors, graphics, etc. 

 need a laptop that is lightweight, durable, and suitable for research, writing,  and casual web browsing. 

You don't need anything really, these are extremely basic operations. 4-8 GB RAM, i3 processor, any GB hard drive. Every brand will have a basic consumer line of laptops (i.e. Inspiron for Dell), this is the type of line you should be targeting (should cost you no more than $500-700).

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On 5/11/2017 at 1:44 PM, Duchess of Wavertree said:

Can anyone recommend some specs I should be looking for while laptop shopping? I'm pretty ignorant about technical aspects like RAM, processors, graphics, etc. 

I'm about to start a PhD in History and need a laptop that is lightweight, durable, and suitable for research, writing,  and casual web browsing. I know this describes literally all laptops, but there is a huge variety out there and I am lost sorting through the literally thousands of options. Would really appreciate any advice on the minimal / optimal technical requirements I should be looking for. 

I'm one of those people that only uses Apple products when it comes to tech stuff, and last fall I got a Macbook Air--I used to have a Macbook Pro, which was fine, but I've found I really prefer the Air. First, it is WAY more lightweight--I took my computer with me everywhere during undergrad and will likely lug it around for all of grad school too, and when you're already carrying multiple books/notebooks/etc. in your bag, having a more lightweight device is definitely more convenient. 

When I bought it, the people in the store told me that if I was pretty much using it for writing/research type work, it would be perfect. They said if I was going to be doing heavy math work and downloading and using a lot of intense data/computation programs then they would suggest another Pro, but I'm in the social sciences and haven't really needed anything like that yet :) It has a USB port, there's also a port to hook up an HDMI chord. 

It has about a 12 hour battery life (though obviously you shouldn't try to work on it until it dies every time), it comes with the basic apps you'll probably need, like Photos, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, etc.---you can buy Word/Powerpoint/Excel to download to your computer, but once you start school you should be able to get that for free through the university. When you set up your computer, you can also connect your account to your phone (if you have an iPhone) so you receive text notifications, etc. on your computer. I have my Macbook synced with all of my other accounts too (Gmail, social media, etc.) and I get little pop-up reminders and notifications that I find really convenient, and it automatically updates my calendar app to include events I need to attend, birthdays, doctors appointments, etc. which I also really like.

One thing it doesn't have is a disc drive, but personally I haven't ever desperately needed to have that in the time i've owned this computer. 

I bought a separate hard drive to back up all of my work, just in case something ever happens, which I do periodically every few months, but I would recommend pretty much everyone get something like that anyway regardless of the computer they use. 

I've had 0 problems with this computer, it works fast, and has everything I need. My roommate recently switched from a PC to a Macbook Air, and she says she wishes she had done it sooner! 

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I agree for Mac computers. I bought a MacBook Air when I got into college, so that was back in 2013 and it still works, it's pretty amazing.

I also bought a planner from Blueline last week. It was a bit pricey, but it has everything I need (weekly view on one page with each day divided by hour, a place for a to-do section, and monthly calendar at the beginning of each month). I think I am going to use it a lot, I spent a lot of time shopping for an appropriate planner.

I would also add that at my university, students are given antivirus and other types of programs (Office 365, etc.) at no cost or are paid through your student fees. So it would be worth a shot to take a look at what programs/softwares are being offered by your university.

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Computing depends a lot on what you do. For my work that is heavily computational (or graphics intensive), I don't even try to use a laptop. I have a desktop in my office for that (two, actually, one mac and one PC). 

For a laptop, I wanted something light and easily portable, so I went for a Macbook Air as well. Got it in 2010, and it's still running fine for me today. May think about upgrading it this year or next, but not in a hurry. 

That said, I strongly recommend waiting to get a computer until you know exactly what you'll need for graduate school. Having the same OS choice as your PI (if in STEM) can help a ton, as programs will be the same. I had a nightmare when I started (back in the dark ages) when I was using a PC and my advisor was using a Mac. Word files didn't directly transfer perfectly, and some of our manuscripts would completely reformat going between us, to immense frustration. 

Once you start grad school, you'll know what's available (in terms of software) and you can ask people in your program for recommendations that work with the school infrastructure well. 

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29 minutes ago, Eigen said:

That said, I strongly recommend waiting to get a computer until you know exactly what you'll need for graduate school. Having the same OS choice as your PI (if in STEM) can help a ton, as programs will be the same. I had a nightmare when I started (back in the dark ages) when I was using a PC and my advisor was using a Mac. Word files didn't directly transfer perfectly, and some of our manuscripts would completely reformat going between us, to immense frustration. 

^This. I also came to school with a PC, and my advisor and other collaborators had Macs. That caused all kinds of compatibility issues with Word and PowerPoint documents and a lot of wasted time fixing problems that didn't need to be there in the first place. Eventually I got a Macbook Air, and that has been immensely helpful. Mine is about 4 years old now and still running as good as new. 

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Just want to third @Eigen's and @fuzzylogician's advice! I waited until grad school started before buying my laptop and I'm glad I did for the compatibility issues. Also, many school computer/book stores have back-to-school sales and you can get the Apple education discount through them. I got my computer for $200 off the base price plus a $100 App store gift card which I used to buy some software. I ended up getting a Macbook Pro because back in 2012, I thought I would need a disk drive (used it for a very short amount of time lol); however, the additional computing power is nice. I can use my Macbook Pro to run short pieces of analysis, which is very helpful when I am away from my desktop for work. I try to not do a lot of work on my laptop, but I do occasionally need to do work on it when traveling and when working at the telescope. For more complicated tasks, I connect to my desktop (an iMac) and run the analyses there, then download the results onto my laptop.

I'm going to start a new position in the summer, and again, I am waiting to see what configuration I should get. I have requested a iMac or Mac Pro for my desktop computer and I think it will be granted, but still making sure I have my work station set up before I get my laptop (which will be mostly personal use, but I want it to be as painless to do work on it as possible when I travel).

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  • 4 weeks later...

A hotspot device. Just switched carriers and probably will end up paying about $5 more per month for mobile, but to also have unlimited, reliable wifi whereever I go is a dream - especially living off campus, far from family (trips home), and occasional academic travel. Constant streaming might be an issue (I heard they throttle after 22 gb/month), but I doubt I'll be watching movies/tv much. I'll deal with my beat up, worn MacBook Air and dated phone as long as I can stay connected and study/research despite the surroundings.

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On 5/4/2017 at 11:47 AM, spacecheetah said:

I created an account just to respond to this topic, after reading the first 15 pages and enjoying not only the thoughtful responses, but the evolution in recommendations alongside tech. I am chiming in with what works for me. I was a non-trad undergrad and begin graduate work in a Humanities program (literature concentration; apparently I want to be poor forever) this coming fall. The ink is barely dry on last semester's final papers, and I'm already nerding out hard about school supplies.

When I was first giving college a try (mumble) years ago, I just used any old crap, as long as it was cheap. Now that I'm older, and have wasted about a Brazilian dollars replacing cheap junk, I believe in "Buy once, cry once." After much trial and error, this is what worked for me as an undergrad, and what didn't.

Osprey Celeste Backpack -- Amazon reviews made me choose this over North Face. For one, it's lighter. For two, it was much cheaper. I paid about $60 for it. I got a year-old model on Amazon for extra savings. It's perfect in every way. Has a pocket for everything, carries a bunch of stuff (I think 29 L?) but is compact in size. Also came in Candy Orange. (Orange makes me happy. It's the little things.) Super durable, looks and behaves good as new after two semesters of hard use.

Moleskine Cahier Journals -- Spirals are the worst. By the end of a semester they come apart on me.  I get the new XXL size cahier, which is about notebook paper size, and after my brother's Barnes and Noble employee 30% discount and including tax, I pay a little over $5 a piece for them. One notebook holds an entire semester's worth of notes for 15 hours worth of classes, two semesters in a row. Plus my husband, who has some artistic ability, has fun decorating the plain kraft brown cover for me. I love how smooth and fine the paper is, and how narrow the lines. I also use a smaller Moleskine journal for notes on each major paper I'm writing. (Little bit of trivia: I had to call Moleskine customer service once, and inadvertently found out how they pronounce the name: mole-uh-SKEE-nuh. Who knew?!)

Moleskine Planner -- I got the 18 month weekly academic planner. It's my bible. I have used it for two semesters, and will use it this summer and in the fall, at which point I will probably switch to a 12-month daily. It's been great, but I think having a full page for each day will be even better. I got the Peanuts edition because Snoopy makes me happy and, again, it's the little things.

Stabilo colored pens -- My husband had a set of these that lasted 20 years. I found them in the garage, necromanced them, and used them for a semester, when they started to finally dry out, so I got another set. I use them to color code my planner. Each semester I assign a color to each course so when I write in my planner I know which class the item is for at a glance. I use that same color to head and date note pages in my Moleskine. There are enough colors that I don't have to reuse the same color two semesters in a row, so I don't get confused. They also come in a durable, attractive little striped plastic case.

Stabilo Boss highlighters -- I wouldn't believe Amazon reviews that these last 10+ years if I hadn't experienced Stabilo pens. These highlighters are smooth, vibrant, and perfect. After a semester of heavy use, still going strong.

Columbia Regretless rain jacket -- These are $100 or so retail but I found one for $20 on Amazon. It lives, rolled up, in the bottom of my backpack. Super light, so I forget it's there until I need it. This has saved me a million times over on my half-mile treks to/from the parking lot. Much better than an umbrella. It zips up all the way up to your nose and the hood tightens down with a drawstring and has a little visor over your face. I stay bone dry from the hips up in this thing.

Skechers waterproof work boots -- These look like ugly-adorable hiking boots but are actually mens workboots. If it rains, even though these aren't my favorite shoes fashion-wise, I wear these and they never fail me.

Teva sandals -- Or anything comfortable. Essential in Texas where it's hot 9 months out of the year.

Contigo 20 oz. Autoseal tumbler -- I just lost this the other day after a year of hard use and almost cried. It has never ever leaked, it's easy to clean, and it keeps hot stuff hot and cold stuff cold for hours. You need a bottle brush to clean the inside thoroughly.

Trader Joe Spiced Chai tea -- I gave up coffee in January b/c my OBGYN said it can mess with hormones. I didn't die. Instead I drink tea now and this is my fave. Other chai tastes like medicine. This is $2.50 a box for 20 tea bags. Add a dash of heavy cream, stays hot for hours in my Contigo.

Brown Betty tea pot -- If you're a tea drinker, this original ceramic pot handmade in England is not expensive and makes the best pot of tea ever. Might still be available on Amazon.

Google Drive -- I am ashamed to say I only discovered Google docs and Google Drive this semester and I don't know how I lived without them. My kindle Fire has trouble with it but I edit on my iPhone. I love being able to hop on a computer in the school library and pull up all my work without lugging a laptop around.

Google Docs -- Why would I ever pay for MS Office again?

Kindle books -- Have saved me a lot of money, plus you only have to remember one item. I think my kindle might be dying, though, so I may be going back to paper for a while. It can be a pain when page numbers don't sync up with the prof's edition, but I love being able to search the entire book rather than flip through page after page. Really helps when writing papers.

Bic Atlantis pens -- Smooth, bold line without being too bulky. (The Bic Velocity was too thick and messy.) Inexpensive. I may switch to Pilot G2 though.

Avery Six-Pocket Organizer -- This is basically 3 folders in one with six transparent pockets. I used to carry a big binder with a divider for each course but it was bulky. Now I carry this to keep syllabi for each class (all instantly visible in the transparent pockets) and stick handouts behind them. Very slim, light. My notes stay in my Moleskine. I often need to print out journal articles, so I keep a separate slim binder for each individual research paper, and only bring it with me when I need it.

Lap desk - Really handy if you use a wireless mouse with your laptop.

Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime -- Essential.

Amazon Prime for Students -- A discount on Amazon Prime. Check it out.

Evernote -- I've been paying the $6/month for premium but I may stop. For a semester I religiously scanned and uploaded every page of notes, but I didn't use the digital versions enough to make it worth it. This semester I stopped using it almost altogether, and didn't miss it. I use Google Docs way more now.

External wireless mouse and keyboard -- Makes using a laptop more flexible and comfortable

Bluetooth keyboard -- Works great with my kindle. Wouldn't use it for big jobs like writing papers, but for my Digital Humanities course where we needed to bring a machine, it was more convenient than lugging my craptop.

Noise-cancelling earbuds - I found some good ones on Amazon for $9.99. Now I can go to the Pub on campus for lunch and barely register the terrible pop music.

Friends -- I have two "school BFFs." We have basically nothing in common outside of school but we don't need it. We have our suffering to unite us. Find buddies and support each other. It helps.

Things I plan to acquire:

Lenovo Thinkpad - I need to replace my old craptop and my brother, who teaches computer programming, recommended this. A lot of his students use it.

WD 1TB external hard drive -- I will probably use this when I start my TA-ship next year. For now Google Drive is fine.

Dry erase board with markers -- My husband uses this at work and wants us to get one, put a week's worth of more detailed planning on it alongside our regular monthly calendar.

Avery Multiuse Ultratabs -- I will probably get these for my Moleskine daily planner because it doesn't have tabs and I like to be able to see the months at a glance.

Moleskine Chapters Journal -- I'm considering doing a bullet journal type thing so I can organize non-academic aspects of my life, which for a while have been woefully underrepresented. This has several sections and a table of contents page, so you can have sections for finances, household, fitness, medical, etc.

Brother laser printer -- We have a Canon MG 5200 Inkjet with a scanner and copier that prints color. Ink is EXPENSIVE. I can get a monochrome Brother that duplex prints for $79 refurbished on Amazon, and I think it will save a lot of money. We'll keep the Canon for fancier jobs.

Chacos sandals -- These are a sorority girl staple but they're popular for a reason. Waterproof, adjustable straps, last forever, lifetime guarantee with free repairs. Worth the hundred bucks, especially in this climate where it's hot but it flash-floods often.

Believe it or not, I could add more, but this is long enough. I hope it helps someone.

Kristen

I noticed this post had a recent response, so I read a few replies and came upon your post. This, by far, is the best list I've seen. It seems like you definitely have all of the 'grad school' essentials that you need and you even included a list of a few more items you would like to have. I love this! I've never heard of Osprey backpacks, so I googled them. They look pretty nice, but I'm not sure I could spend so much on a backpack that I'm only using for school. I've been a Jansport fan for many years. They seem to be pretty durable and last quite a long time. They definitely don't compare to your Osprey though. That is a nice bag! 

I may look into your list in some more detail as I begin a graduate program this Fall. I'm actually starting an online program, so I'm not even sure a nice, fancy backpack will really benefit me. I may transport some items around a few times, but definitely won't be going to class every day. 

Thanks again for this list. It's great!! 

What major/university are you attending? (just curious) :o) 

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On 4/17/2017 at 2:17 PM, Neist said:

Now that I've spent my first year in graduate school, I'd like to chime in and emphasize the importance of buying a good backpack.

Buy a good bag. One that's comfortable, meets all your needs, and is at least passable as professional.

I've struggled with packs this year, and I think I'm going to have to invest a couple of hundred dollars into something that fits my needs. Should have done this initially.

There are a bunch of us the cycle to school so we had this issue of good backpack that looked professional and didn't kill our backs. I use a Northface bag that looks sober. A friend uses commuting waterproof bags and keeps a more serious bag in his office at school. 

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22 minutes ago, AP said:

There are a bunch of us the cycle to school so we had this issue of good backpack that looked professional and didn't kill our backs. I use a Northface bag that looks sober. A friend uses commuting waterproof bags and keeps a more serious bag in his office at school. 

Having lived in a place that averages 64 inches of rain a year... A waterproof bag was a must. I swear by Chrome bike bags- I got one second hand, and in the last 8 years it has shown zero signs of wear, and is completely waterproof. It's also made for cycling, and is really comfortable for that purpose. 

Their repair policy is also amazing. The previous owner to mine had cut down one of the straps- was still useable, but caused some problems when I wanted to wear it over winter coats. I happened to be in Portland for a job interview, and went into one of their brick and mortar stores. They gave me a loaner bag for the time I was there, and charged me $10 to remove and replace the strap with a brand new one. 

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2 hours ago, AP said:

There are a bunch of us the cycle to school so we had this issue of good backpack that looked professional and didn't kill our backs. I use a Northface bag that looks sober. A friend uses commuting waterproof bags and keeps a more serious bag in his office at school. 

It's doubly difficult for me due to scoliosis. While it's not noticeable, one of my shoulders hangs slightly lower than the other (maybe half a centimeter). This issue causes backpacks to sit unevenly on my shoulders. It's super annoying. :D 

I'm considering investing in a good sling bag. I've used messenger bags before, and in fact it's what I'm currently using, but I want to try something different.

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  • 1 month later...

Well this was an informative thread. I'll probably end up grabbing one of those livescribe smartpens and a cheap Android tablet/keyboard combination thing. No need for any $800 surface pros or lenovo yogas or anything like that.

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  • 4 months later...

I'm somewhat old school and prefer having physical books and notes but I'm starting to catch up with the times. Does anyone have experience with smart notebooks? I'm came across the Everlast Rocketbooks and they seem like a happy medium between pen/paper and digital files. My only concern is that the technology is still developing and I wonder whether they're as good as they advertise - especially for a grad student.

I'd love someone else's take!

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21 hours ago, jamesaly said:

I'm somewhat old school and prefer having physical books and notes but I'm starting to catch up with the times. Does anyone have experience with smart notebooks? I'm came across the Everlast Rocketbooks and they seem like a happy medium between pen/paper and digital files. My only concern is that the technology is still developing and I wonder whether they're as good as they advertise - especially for a grad student.

I'd love someone else's take!

The gel ink that is used for the Everlast notepads is heat sensitive, and they will erase themselves if you leave them in a hot car, so be careful with them. What you can do to avoid that is to download their pdf of a blank page, that has all of the grid lines etc used for the app. Just print out a few dozen pages, then write on them with whatever pen you like, and use the app to do all of the synchronization.

 

 

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5 hours ago, avflinsch said:

The gel ink that is used for the Everlast notepads is heat sensitive, and they will erase themselves if you leave them in a hot car, so be careful with them. What you can do to avoid that is to download their pdf of a blank page, that has all of the grid lines etc used for the app. Just print out a few dozen pages, then write on them with whatever pen you like, and use the app to do all of the synchronization.

 

 

I did read about that that problem, definitely something to be wary of. An interesting 'hack' though one of the draws is of course using less paper (this is coming from someone who printed 80+ page manuscripts a dozen times :ph34r:). Thanks!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I just finished reading through all 20 pages, haha. 

 

I've been wanting a good desktop setup for a while, so I plan to build one once I have the parts and just depend on my old laptop until then. I'm also a fan of handwriting my notes to start. 

A lot for me is deciding what to take with and what to buy there. Also, I'm most likely moving somewhere with a real winter, so I'm trying to figure out what I need to survive, haha.

As for that article that was posted for women on what to wear, I disagree with some of what the author was saying ("hooker-wear"-really?). Specifically, do not judge a makeup item by its brand name. The Wet n' Wild liquid catsuit line is a great liquid to matte that lasts and they have many professional colors (my favorite for interviews are Berry Recognize and Rebel Rose, but I've basically bought the entire regular line by now). Elf is pretty much known as the cheapest of the cheap, but they've got some amazing highlighters and a great pot gel liner that I swear by. In short, makeup doesn't need to be expensive or belong to a specific brand in order to be good. All brands have great (and horrible) products. The problem is finding them (and youtube helps a lot with that). 

I am going to be a TA (most likely) and I am interested in sprucing up my wardrobe a bit, but I hope I won't need to be business professional every day. I'd like to pair a fitted jacket or cardigan with either a nice knee-length dress or a nice shirt (or nicer tank top) and either slacks or yoga pants. As for shoes, my feet are pretty sensitive, so I'm hoping to get away most days with a black sneaker, my snow boots, or find a flat or something that is actually comfortable. What do you guys think about this plan?

My hope is that I can find somewhere to live close enough to campus that I can bike or that's along a bus route. I'd rather not get a car unless absolutely necessary. I also plan to research local grocery stores as well as grocery delivery services. I can't eat processed food or breads/grains for health reasons, and I hate cooking meat, so I assume I'll be making a lot of crockpot meals and bean-based soups, haha (luckily, a friend is giving me her crockpot).

What are some lesser-known things I might want to buy or prepare for? I'm planning to wait on the bookcase, desk, chair, printer, and filing cabinet until after I get there and see what's provided by the department.

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@GreenEyedTrombonist  I too am a desktop fan and think its smart to invest in putting one together that will last you through your program.  I also have a laptop, but if that thing dies I'll be fine. 

As for footwear I think it is important to wear well made shoes especially if you are on the go.  If you want a dressier but comfortable flat I'd look at Clarks.  They have lots of options and good sales too.  Also consider waterproof hiking boots for snow days.  I find they are more comfortable and breath a bit more.

Before you spruce up your wardrobe for TAing, check out what the other TAs are doing first.  If might not be worth the expense if no one else dresses up.

I'd also look into the kind of bag you're going to carry.  If you won't have a car then you'll carry all your stuff with you and multiple bags can get annoying.  I seriously took all the stuff I'd need to carry each day into an office supply store and tested out several bags before finding a few that worked.

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@MarineBluePsy Thanks! I'll definitely check out what the other TAs do first. :) I have a good backpack, but I'm hoping to upgrade to a nice messenger bag before the fall. 

As for snow boots, I absolutely adore mine, but I guess I'll see this winter if that holds up, haha.

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